Temple Student Government announced on Monday the two teams, BecomingTU and RiseTU, running to be the 2019-20 academic year’s Executive Branch.
Both candidates for student body president, BecomingTU’s Francesca Capozzi, who is IgniteTU’s current director of university pride and traditions, and RiseTU’s Alexandra Gordon, are women. One of them will be the first female student body president since Natalie Ramos-Castillo, a 2011 early childhood education alumna, who served during the 2010-11 academic year.
“Not only at this school, but as a whole, female leaders are not represented as they should be,” Capozzi said. “No matter your gender, no matter how you identify, being able to lead is not determinant of that. It’s determined of your abilities.”
“It’s always been stigmatized that women don’t have the competency to be in high positions, although Temple is a smaller scale,” Gordon said. “If you have that belief that you are good enough and you are competent…it can show Temple that we need to be representative of who we are.”
Three of the six total executive team candidates on the two teams are current members of IgniteTU.
The Elections Commission vets candidates who are current members of a TSG administration for conflicts of interest, according to TSG’s Election Code. The commission found none of the four candidates have conflicts, wrote Rofiat Oseni, the elections commissioner, in an email to The Temple News.
Meet the BecomingTU candidates
Francesca Capozzi, a sophomore political science and English major, is BecomingTU’s presidential candidate. She has been involved with TSG since the beginning of the academic year. Capozzi is a member of Temple’s chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon and the Temple Pre-Law Society.
“I wanted to run for executive branch as president to ensure that trust and transparency is being built between community and administration and students, so that everyone’s experience at Temple, and in the North Philadelphia community as a whole, is as best as it can be,” Capozzi said.M
- Presidential candidate: Francesca Capozzi, a sophomore political science and English major
- Vice President of External Affairs candidate: Kaya Jones, a junior political science and journalism major
- Vice President of Services candidate: Laryssa Banks, a sophomore health professions major
Kaya Jones, a junior political science and journalism major, is BecomingTU’s vice presidential candidate of external affairs. Jones, a first-generation college student, held the Klein College of Media and Communication Parliament seat during the 2017-18 academic year and sponsored a resolution to create a women’s center, The Temple News reported in April 2018.
Jones also serves as IgniteTU’s deputy director of community affairs, according to BecomingTU’s website, and is a member of Ignite at Temple U, an organization for women to get involved in politics.
Laryssa Banks, a sophomore health professions major, is BecomingTU’s vice presidential candidate of services. This is her first time involved with TSG.
BecomingTU platform points
One of BecomingTU’s main platform points is to unite the North Philadelphia community with students.
The team wants to begin inviting community residents to TSG’s bi-monthly town hall meetings, and have residents conduct tours of the North Philadelphia neighborhood through the Office of Orientation, New Student and Family Programs.
“This is their home, they know the best about it,” Capozzi said. “Being able to share that with the new families and students coming in is something that will really allow this relationship to flourish.”
If the team wins, BecomingTU would mandate that TSG members attend two hours of meetings and events for student organizations that they are not part of each week, according to BecomingTU’s platform.
“Having the students go to these organizations will allow for a relationship to be built between the organizations and Temple Student Government,” Capozzi said.
BecomingTU also plans to make Parliament inactive during Fall 2019 so it can work with the Executive Branch and Ethics Board on becoming more effective, according to the team’s platform. Parliament struggled to pass resolutions during the fall semester, and was mandated by the Ethics Board in December 2018 to propose a minimum of 15 resolutions in about three weeks. The body was only able to propose eight.
“Go in, see what we can improve upon, especially in our communications between Executive and Parliament,” said Laryssa Banks, BecomingTU’s vice presidential candidate of services.
One of the cornerstones of BecomingTU’s platform is expanding the university’s inclusivity, especially among LGBTQIA+ students and students with disabilities. This would include campaigns and seminars to train student organizations as “Safe Zones” for marginalized groups, the platform states.
Meet the RiseTU candidates
Alexandra Gordon, the RiseTU presidential candidate, is a junior political science and Africology major, and a vice president of the Temple chapter of the Progressive NAACP. The opportunity to help her peers drove Gordon to run for office, she said.
“We all struggle in our own ways,” she added. “We should be able to help students with their struggles with the resources that Temple Student Government and Temple has altogether.”
- Presidential Candidate: Alexandra Gordon, a junior political science and Africology major
- Vice President of Services Candidate: Diamante Ortiz, a junior political science major
- Vice President of External Affairs
- CCandidate: Alex Rosenberg, a junior political science major
Diamante Ortiz, RiseTU’s vice president of external affairs, is a junior political science major and resident assistant. Ortiz is a member of la Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos and works as a diversity peer for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership, where she leads programming about social justice issues.
Alex Rosenberg, the team’s vice presidential candidate of external affairs, is Parliament’s junior class representative. Rosenberg, a junior political science major, was a member of the Committee on Parliament Reform in Fall 2018 and passed a resolution for a dog park near Main Campus.
RiseTU PLATFORM POINTS
A major platform point in RiseTU’s campaign is improving students and North Philadelphia community members’ access to fresh food near Main Campus.
The campaign suggested working with United States Rep. Dwight Evans, who represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional district, which encompasses the area west of Main Campus. RiseTU wants to partner with Evans’ Fresh Food Financing Initiative to bring more produce options to the area and boost students’ access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
RiseTU wants to promote students’ awareness of assistance programs, like SNAP and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a federal program that assists with energy bill costs, that some students could be eligible for, Gordon said. These programs can help fight student food insecurity and offset off-campus living costs, respectively.
“Students shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for food or pay for heat for a month,” she added.
In its platform, RiseTU also suggests mandatory diversity training for new students, which would “teach about the use of rhetoric ‘locals’” to describe North Philadelphia residents who live in the area surrounding the university.
“That rhetoric needs to change, because they’re people and we need to stop othering,” Gordon said. “We need to realize we live in the same community.”
RiseTU also plans to expand student organizations’ access to university buildings to hold meetings and events, beyond the limited space available in the Student Center and “revisit” the allocations structure, which IgniteTU altered mid-way through the academic year.
The current administration first made its General Assembly meetings optional, and representatives from students organizations did not have to attend to receive their club allocations. The leaders then reinstated mandatory “town halls” in place of the GA meetings in early Spring 2019, The Temple News reported in January.
When it comes to students organizations’ gathering space, the Student Activities’ Student Training and Rewards System allows groups with leadership training and a higher STARS ranking to reserve Student Center rooms further in advance. This could put new organizations that are growing, or have very few members, at a disadvantage, said Gordon. The team wants to move “dance organizations” that hold rehearsals in the Student Center to other spaces, to make room for others, according to RiseTU’s platform.
“If we have a program about Black voting or something… or the independence of a Latinx country, we need spaces and a lot of times, and some spaces are utilized by dance organizations,” Gordon said.
Ortiz also said she’d like to make TSG more representative of the student body.
“I felt that in order to reinstate that trust and restate the visibility and accountability, I wanted to run,” Ortiz said.
UPCOMING ELECTION EVENTS
TSG will hold a debate between BecomingTU and RiseTU on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Student Center room 200AB, Oseni wrote in an email to The Temple News.
The second debate will be on April 1 in Student Center room 200C at a time yet to be announced, Hailey McCormack, IgniteTU’s director of communications, told The Temple News.
Elections will directly follow the final debate on April 2 and 3, and the 2019-20 TSG administration will be announced on April 4.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Diamante Ortiz was a freelance reporter for The Temple News. She had no role in the editing of this story.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect title for one of the vice presidential positions. Candidates are vying for the vice president of external affairs and vice president of services positions. An earlier version of this story also incorrectly stated that Diamante Ortiz spoke about the Diamond Accreditation program. Alexandra Gordon spoke about the STARS program.